Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs was online Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. EST to answer your swing questions and analyze your swing videos. If you missed Brady, check back next Tuesday at noon for another episode of Ask Brady Riggs Live! on Golf.com. Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments. Next week I will be doing the blog from the Nabisco Championships in Palm Springs as my student, U.S. Amateur Champion Danielle Kang, prepares for the event. For those of you aspiring to play on higher levels or just interested in what goes into preparation for a major, it should be very informative. Have a great week. Nick asks at 1:45: Is it possible to retain a flat left wrist and a cupped right wrist after impact? I see most pros finishing their swings with a cupped/bent left wrist. Would this be considered the ideal or what we should be hypothetically trying to achieve, even if we end up not doing so since a flat left wrist aligned with our left shoulder is desired for an impact position?
I suppose this also gets into what release pattern you try to promote with your players. Do you advocate a more down-the-line release or a low-and-left release? Can the flat left wrist be retained through either of these release styles? Do we want to retain it and what are the advantages/disadvantages of each release? Don’t keep the left wrist flat and the right wrist bent past impact and into the finish. It doesn’t work, it’s not powerful, it restricts the natural release of energy, just say no. I hate the low-left release, not a big fan at all. Look at the guys who have won the most tournaments over the last three or four decades and you won’t see many low-left. I want the club to go past the body after impact, dragging the club low-left is great if your trying to get back on top of the plane from an excessively underneath attack. Other than that, it stinks. Here are a couple of pictures of a non-low-left release, my preference. Nolowleft Dave asks at 1:38: Dave here, looking forward to some more Tuesday tips as always. I have straightened out my driver significantly thanks to the tips you've given over the past few weeks, thanks again! The next weakness in my game that I want to attack is consistent contact on iron shots. I feel I'm fairly consistent already but want to know what the next step might be to really hitting it pure almost all the time, beyond spending lots of time on the range, which I already do. Any thoughts would be appreciated! Dave, a good thing to work on is controlling the trajectory of your iron shots. This will not only help you in windy conditions, but it is an excellent way to reinforce good mechanics. By working on the height of your shots, your weight will move more on top of your front foot and the shaft will tend to lean a bit more forward at impact. While this isn’t new information, working on trajectory control is an excellent way to get the most control and consistency out of your irons. Scotty asks at 1:10: I'm so confused and I'm hoping you can help me understand the wrist hinge in the backswing. I'm a right-hander trying to move from a strong grip to neutral. I understand that the left wrist hinges up in the backswing and the right hinges back. With my old stronger grip I seemed to focus on the right wrist gradually breaking back from the start of the takeway to the end of the backswing. I'm thinking that this isn't correct.
Now with a more neutral grip in the takeaway, my wrists don't do much hinging at all until they get to about the midway point in the backswing. From there the left hinges up and the right sort of flops back on itself so that roughly 80-90 percent of the hinging of both wrists is completed right after the midway point. To me this seems more like an upward hinging motion than before. To swing through to impact from this position requires me to drop my arms or else there is no way the wrists could unhinge properly. To illustrate this better, I recall an article in the Golf Magazine Instruction book that talks about how the unhinging of the wrists coming into impact is like turning a door knob. This is the sensation I'm now getting with a more neutral grip.
Although the clubface is in line at the top of the backswing, I'm just wondering if this is the right motion I should expect of my wrists in the backswing with a more neutral grip?
Thanks so much Thanks for the question, Scotty. The first thing you need to come to “grips” with is the fact that address and impact are not the same when it comes to the condition of the wrists. In addition, address and the top COULD be the same and the top and impact COULD be the same, just not all three. Confused yet? At address, the left wrist is usually bent and the right wrist is usually in a flat position (yes, there are unique starts but let's go with the majority). At impact, the left wrist becomes flat and the right wrist is bent backwards. While there is some variation, impact conditions are fairly consistent across the board. SO, you need to decide if you want the top of the backswing to have the address conditions of your wrists or the impact conditions. It is entirely up to you. There have been major champions who have played with the left wrist flat (impact) at the top and the left wrist bent (address). Yes, this will change the relative position of the clubface with the flat wrist showing a more closed position than the bent. The fact is each has its strengths and weaknesses. This will determine how you are going to hinge your wrists on the backswing and how you will release the club through impact. If you choose to make the adjustment in the wrists from address to the top, the clubshaft will work up on a flatter angle than if you keep the bend in the left wrist a constant. If you choose keep the bend, the left wrist will need to become flat in the transition, a move that is fairly natural when the sequence of motion is correct. The simple fact is, despite what so many people who are trying to sell books and DVDs will tell you, there is more than one way to do this. Try both and find out what works best for you. Send me your swing and I will give you some insight as to where you might be more effective. Bill asks at 12:46: I would appreciate a bit of help here. I have been told that for 6'2", I have a very flat swing (Matt Kuchar comes to mind). This causes me to drop too far inside and of course leads to mostly pushes, or a push fade if I try to steepen the swing. This becomes more of an issue with my driver. I have started choking up on the driver and it helps a bit, but I feel as though I am losing distance. Thank you for your help. Bill, thanks for the email. There isn’t a great deal of information here to go on but I will do my best. There is no reason that the combination of your height and a flatter swing couldn’t work for you. It obviously works for Kuchar and many other taller players. A common problem associated with the misses you describe is the right arm getting stuck behind the right hip approaching impact. This is the result of a loss of posture beginning with a faulty address position. As with so many things in the swing the address position will make or break you. Make sure your weight is on the balls of your feet, arms hanging down, and you are ready to make an athletic and relaxed motion. If you can send me some video I will give you more specific advice. George asks at 12:38: Hi Brady. Love the blog. I greatly appreciate you taking from your day. It's the highlight of my Tuesdays and a great 15 minutes of decompressing from work. I have been working all winter on (a) staying more connected on the takeaway so as to keep the club from getting flat and behind me and (b) working to maintain the tush line on the downswing, leading with my lower body and approaching the inside back of the ball (obviously being flat going back my tendency is to be steep coming down). I am great in slow motion in the house. I live in the Northeast so I am still realistically 3-4 weeks away from being able to practice. What is your suggestion on how to best work from slow motion up to real speed so that the changes I am trying to make stick? You are well on your way, George. It sounds like you have a very clear picture in your mind about what you are trying to do. That is the most critical aspect of improving. I always tell my students they can improve at home, at work, in the car, or while sleeping. Doing the work “within (your mind)” while you are “without (the practice ground)” is the BEST way to improve. Slow practice is the best, no doubt. I constantly remind my students, “If you can’t do it slow, how can you do it fast?” I would continue with the slow swings on the range when you are able to hit balls again and very carefully work into full speed. If you find that you are losing the technique as you get faster, dial it back to the speed at which you are still able to do it right. It’s that simple. Steve asks at 12:33: I need help in dialing back my swing and having a more consistent tempo. It mostly rears its ugly head with mid to long irons. My natural tendency is too want to mash the ball. When I do that I either swing my arms ahead of my body and pull hard left or I will actually hold off the release and push right. I have tried some counting mechanisms like 1 and 2 or 1, 2, 3 on the back swing and 1, 2, 3 on the downswing. Counting doesn't work for me. What I have tried to do with some success is just think 60% on my swing. Another thing that has helped is thinking layup shot even when hitting to the green. I very rarely over swing on a 2nd shot layup to a par 5 or very long par 4.
Any drills you can suggest to assist? Steve, stop thinking about your tempo. If swinging the club aggressively makes you hit the ball poorly, tempo isn’t the issue. You touched on the real problem of starting the downswing with your arms, this is the area you should focus on. The sequence of motion on the downswing should always be body first, arms and club last. If this gets out of whack no amount of focus on a slower tempo will fix it. Look at the swing of Tommy Armour III or Anthony Kim and you will see a VERY aggressive change of direction in both. However, the change begins with the movement of weight in the direction of the target, not with the arms. To work on this you can do the basic step drill and hit shots. Start with your normal address position and then move your left foot next to your right foot. As you near the top of your backswing, begin to step your left foot to the target. This should begin before the backswing is complete and initiate the move toward the target. You can experiment with when you step to determine your own timing. Stop laying up! Fix the problem and go for the green!  Gerry asks at 12:30: Good day, Mr Riggs.Thanks for the tip last week, I went to the range and practiced a lot. My question today is about fat shots. If i move my weight to my right side and start my downswing with my lower body, it seems like I don't take a divot or I take one right behind the ball. It happens more with my longer clubs. Any tips will be greatly appreciated.Thank you When you get more to the right going back, it gives you the freedom to move aggressively into the left side to start the downswing. If you don’t get back to the left, the bottom of the swing will be behind the ball and so will your contact. Peter asks at 12:13: Weakened grip per your instruction. Hitting push fades. Thanks Peter, sorry to hear that. If you could send me a video of where the swing is I will get you back on track. Getting better is a process. It is difficult to hit the ball accurately when you have an odd number of mistakes. It is likely that when you fixed the grip and the clubface your compensations for the more closed face position you used to have no longer help you. Hang in there. Dave asks at 12:00: Good day...thanks for all the information and help you put out here in the forum. I'd like to know your opinion of Tiger's "new" swing. The things you like & dislike about the changes he is making and the move in general. I look forward to your opinion. As you may know I have written about the changes in the past. Without going back into too much detail, there is one thing about Tiger you should consider. He could probably be successful with just about any method of swinging the golf club. He is that talented. I don’t like the more front footed pivot, it is basically a Stack and Tilt move that is inferior to his swing that produced the best run of play since Hogan in ‘53. I don’t care what others say about how Snead did this or Hogan did that or whoever did whatever…. Tiger had the greatest year in the last half century with a DIFFERENT swing than he is currently using. It is my opinion that he should use what already worked instead of going in a completely different direction. Here is a picture my buddy Mel Blackmon took showing the front foot pivot…..Great picture…bad position. Mel1    

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